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Steve Shaw BS: New news on the pandemic COVID-19 (1904* d) RE: BS: New news on the pandemic COVID-19 08 Oct 21

From today's Guardian.

Lies and conspiracy theories about Covid-19, which have amassed millions of views and are accessible to young children, have been available on the social media platform TikTok for months.

TikTok accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers that discourage vaccination and peddle myths about Covid survival rates were uncovered by NewsGuard, an organisation that monitors online misinformation.

NewsGuard said it published its findings in June and sent them to the UK government and World Health Organization (WHO), but the content remained on the platform.

The revelation comes amid renewed concern about the impact that social media is having on young people, after it was reported that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, had internal research showing its app was harming teenagers.

As part of its investigation, NewsGuard said children as young as nine had been able to access the content, despite TikTok only permitting full access to the app for those aged 13 and over. Three participants in the organisation’s research who were under 13 were able to create accounts on the app by entering fake dates of birth.

TikTok told the Guardian it worked diligently to take action on content and accounts that spread misinformation.

Some of the accounts seen by the Guardian had posted individual videos containing Covid misinformation that had attracted up to 9.2m views. The misinformation included false comments about side-effects of specific brands of Covid vaccine and misleading comparisons between Covid survival rates and vaccine efficacy rates.

Alex Cadier, the UK managing director for NewsGuard, said: “TikTok’s failure to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation on their app is unsustainable bordering on dangerous. Despite claims of taking action against misinformation, the app still allows anti-vaccine content and health hoaxes to spread relatively unimpeded.

“This is made worse by the fact that the more anti-vaccine content kids interact with, the more anti-vaccine content they’ll be shown. If self-regulation isn’t working for social media platforms, then regulation, like the online safety bill, has to be the way forward to keep young people safe online.”

I would go further. It's clear that social media have neither the resources nor the will to regulate themselves. I'd like to see Facebook, Instagram and TikTok disappear from the face of the earth. Failing that (and I do try to be a realist...), I should like to see our governments having the ability to instantly pull the plug on them as soon as this kind of content rears its head.

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